How to Make a Chinese Hat

The most recognisable type of Chinese hat is the conical hat, also known as a sedge hat or rice paddy hat. Useful for wearing in both rainy and sunny conditions, this style of conical hat also originates from Japan, Vietnam, Korea and other East Asian countries. In the West, people often adopt this style of hat to work outdoors in gardens. You can make your own conical Chinese hat from bamboo or straw.

Find a conical hat form or existing hat to use as a hat model. If you cannot find anything suitable, make your own hat model out of card stock. Cut long strips of card stock and layer them on top of one another in a circular pattern, fanning outward, then duct tape the card stock into the desired shape, using a picture for reference. Cover the entire hat model in a layer of duct tape.

Cut the bamboo into long, thin strips. If you are working with straw, make sure that you choose a strong, good quality straw or else your hat will not hold its shape. Soak the bamboo or straw in a basin of warm water overnight so that it will be pliable while you work with it.

Create the framework of the hat. Take 12 strips of bamboo or straw and lay six of them together on a flat surface, facing you vertically. Take another strip of bamboo or straw and run this diagonally through the centre of the other strips, weaving the single strip through the others. Take another single strip and weave it diagonally through the centre of the six strips in the opposite direction, making sure the diagonals meet exactly in the centre to form a central point. Weave another strip diagonally on the other side, about 1/2 inch away from the first diagonal strip, and do the same on the opposite side. Repeat this pattern until you have about four diagonals on each side.

Place the hat model on your lap or between your legs for the best working angle. Lay your small woven section of bamboo or straw over the top of the hat form, making sure that it is wet enough to bend easily. Continue your work weaving the diagonal strips through the original six vertical strips, adding more vertical strips to each side as you go. Stop when you have covered the entire hat model, letting the long ends hang off the brim of the hat.

Cut another long strip of bamboo or straw and weave it through the brim of the hat, folding the hanging edges downward. Fold the hanging edges upward and weave another strip through the brim, then clip the hanging edges. If necessary, glue this binding in place with a hot glue gun or tie it with the embroidery thread.

Flatten six strips of bamboo or straw vertically over the design, in an equal distance from one another. Let the strips meet at the crown to create a point, and tie them in place with embroidery thread. This completes the hat body.

Flatten strips of bamboo leaves vertically over the design, like you did the strips in Step 6. Stitch the leaves down with the embroidery thread, tying it around the framework. Create many layers of bamboo leaves for a smooth finish.

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